Peoria ushers in 3 new deputy city managers

(Left to right) Kevin Burke had been Peoria’s chief financial officer prior to taking the deputy city manager job. Mike Faust had been serving as the director of the State of Arizona Department of Child Services prior to joining Peoria’s team. Travis Cutright comes to the city of Peoria from the city of Mesa, where he served as its chief innovation/innovation officer. (City of Peoria/Submitted)

Mike Faust had been serving as the director of the State of Arizona Department of Child Services prior to joining Peoria’s team. 

After a nationwide competitive recruitment process that resulted in more than 100 applicants, the city of Peoria recently hired three deputy city managers.

Travis Cutright, Mike Faust and Kevin Burke will join the city management office to drive Peoria's growth.

“We were incredibly fortunate to have amazing candidates to choose from, and it was a difficult decision,” City Manager Henry Darwin said. “After conducting a thorough, competitive process, I am excited to bring top-tier talent to these city leadership positions.”

Cutright brings in over 15 years of city government experience. Most recently the chief innovation/information officer for the city of Mesa, Cutright is a Peoria High School graduate.

“I actually attended Peoria High School back in the day,” Cutright said. “My father graduated from Peoria High School, so there is some history here. My sister was born in Peoria, and so at this point in my career to be able to end up in the place that I have so much history and the community that I love and care for and be of service was just tremendous.”

Cutright began his career with the city of Glendale as its network services manager. After taking a brief hiatus from city leadership, he returned as the chief information officer for Cochise County and later held the same position with the city of Phoenix.

Upon hearing about the opening in Peoria, Cutright jumped at the opportunity to get involved with the city.

“This is a special opportunity,” he said. “Everything about this job is a great fit, the fact that the whole team is new and you can come in and shape the culture and shape the organization in a way that is impactful.”

Cutright will look to do right by his native community. He said he promises to be “innovative” and someone who “thinks outside the box,” all the while using his technological background to help the city maximize its growth potential.

Faust is coming into the deputy city manager role with a plethora of private sector experience. He spent over 15 years in that aspect alone before moving to the city or state government level.

Most recently, he served as the director of the Arizona Department of Child Safety for seven years. His motto is “continuous improvement,” one that he adopted throughout his career and something that he feels could be advantageous to the city.

“I’ve developed a skill set with a great appreciation for continuous improvement and efficiencies,” Faust said. “I’ve learned that through the direct application of cost-saving initiatives and private sector work, taking that same set of tools to state government.”

One of the more intriguing parts of the deputy city manager’s position for Faust is that the city echoes his belief of continuous improvement. As a Peoria resident, he has been able to see the change that the city has made, and he said he feels that his addition will only amplify it.

“I’m super impressed with how much good work has been done here and how much the team really strives to deliver great customer service and to do so as efficiently as possible,” Faust said. “The key for me with continuous improvement is having a deep passion about process or respect for people who execute that process, and then looking for inefficiencies or barriers and what is in their way.

“Our employees want to go help a regular citizen to the greatest extent possible. So, by being very focused on process, very focused on the performance and measurement of that process, then find the barriers that’s inhibiting the staff from doing their job, and that’s when the fun comes in.”

Being ushered into a trailblazing group of new deputy city managers is something Faust is looking forward to, and his passion to make Peoria a better place, he said, is something that will help carry him and the city to new heights.

“I’m extremely grateful for the welcome that I’ve received from the team and their openness to figure out some ideas and their willingness to share of what works and what doesn’t work and where we need to invest energy to make this even a better place to be,” he said.

Burke is the chief financial officer for Peoria. He has been working with the city since 2018, initially serving as in the public works department. Burke took over as the city’s chief financial officer in 2021.

When Peoria was in an interim phase after Jeff Tyne’s retirement, Burke served as the city’s acting city manager up until the hiring of Darwin.

His experience in the city, Burke said, will serve him well.

“I think the combination of five years of institutional knowledge, as well as just an understanding of Peoria culture and combine that with 30 years of municipal government experience, I feel like that’s a great combination,” Burke said. “I hope that I can balance those different perspectives by them to the new challenges that come up.”

Working in city management positions in Boulder, Colorado; Flagstaff; and Paradise Valley, Burke said he brings a “stable” attitude to the table. He intends to help the city move into the future, while also not forgetting its history.

“I see the role as a deputy city manager as very much a facilitator position,” he said. “Facilitating mayor and council, city managers, policy objectives, and then how do we bring those to fruition in the organization, then turning and facilitating departments and their staffs and directors of how to resolve problems out there, finding resources out there, delivering on those.”

Burke is ready to hit the ground running in the deputy city manager position and said he is excited to get started.

“I’m very excited about it,” Burke said. “It’s us trailblazing in a new direction, but not forgetting our history, and so I think both of those components are very energizing.”